From the Archive: A Single Man

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Published December 11, 2009

Designer-turned-director Tom Ford’s first film, A Single Man, comes out today. Based on the 1964 novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, the movie chronicles a day in the life of gay literature professor named George (played by Colin Firth) whose unwavering despondency over the death of his longtime companion (Matthew Goode) drives him to decide to take his own life. The October 1980 issue of Interview featured an excerpt of the privately published, limited edition book October, a compilation of Isherwood’s journals and the drawings of his partner, artist Don Bachardy, produced over the course of one month in 1979, when the pair was living in Los Angeles. In the journal, Isherwood recalls a visit from a cinephile friend of the couple:

“Rich is an ardent student of films. He can talk for hours about the work of actors, directors, cameramen and art directors; he is equally intense in discussing his likes and his dislikes. When he and Don plunge into such discussions–not by any means always agreeing with each other–I am conscious of my ignorance and also of my failure to notice all the tiny details they are aware of as they watch a picture. I love listening to them.” (LEFT: PORTRAIT OF CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD; DON BACHARDY)

A good thing, then, that Bachardy was consulted during the making of the adaptation. As Ford told Gus van Sant in this month’s issue of the magazine, “Don read the screenplay after I finished it. Don’s actually in the film. We pan across a sofa in the faculty lounge, and my boyfriend is on one end and Don is on the other. He even has a line. He sent me a long letter after he saw it, saying that he loved it and he was relieved. [laughs] He was nervous because it was one of Christopher’s favorite books that he had written.”